Data Analysis Reveals 360,000 Californians have Unsafe Drinking Water
According to a McClatchy analysis of data compiled by the State Water Resources Control Board, an estimated 360,000 Californians are served by water systems with unsafe drinking water. The analysis also revealed that almost 6 million Californians are served by water providers that have been in violation of state standards at some point since 2012. According to the Sacramento Bee, California has 3,015 independent water systems and 269 of these suppliers were out of compliance with state drinking water standards as of May. Darrin Polhemus, the state water board’s deputy director for drinking water, states,
It’s ubiquitous. It’s pretty extensive across broad swaths.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in 1995 that California needed $34 billion to clean up its drinking supplies. Governor Jerry Brown asked the Legislature to enact a statewide tax on drinking water to fix wells and treatment systems in distressed communities, but the idea was abandoned as part of a compromise to pass the state budget. If the tax had passed, residents and businesses would have paid a tax on their monthly water bills, while agriculture would have contributed through taxes on fertilizer purchases and fees paid by dairy farmers and feedlot operators. However, Proposition 68, a parks-and-water bond, passed in the June primary and it earmarks $250 million to combat polluted drinking water. There is also Proposition 3 (the California Water Infrastructure and Watershed Conservation Bond) that qualified for the November ballot that would set aside $500 million to address the drinking water problem. We will have to wait and see if Proposition 3 passes in November and if the drinking water issue can eventually be resolved.